Focus“All of my colleagues are doing this. Shouldn’t I be doing it too?”
Most business owners have heard of niche marketing. Yet they are afraid that by concentrating on a niche, on just one section of the market, they’ll have to forego all the other clients. Differentiating yourself seems like the right thing to do, but betting on just one horse is scary. This fear is the undoing of many a business.
A couple of years ago, McDonald’s Israel introduced McFalafel into its menu. It took McDonald’s all of four months to realize the experiment had failed. Although falafel is a fast food sold almost on every corner in Israel, an average customer will choose his favorite joint based on a perception of authenticity.
Potential McDonald’s customers had the option of eating falafel at any of the dozen mom-and-pop stores peppering practically every city, so they needed a better reason to stop by McD’s. Rather than concentrating on what attracted customers to its stores, McDonald’s ventured out of its niche into an already crowded market, where it had little chance of competing.
This basic marketing mistake plagues many business owners. Fearing to miss a client, they position themselves as jacks of all trades. What they do not realize is that niche marketing, meaning concentrating on a specific type of client and his problems, will make their business more profitable in the long run.
Your “keeping up with the Joneses” makes it extremely hard for your clients to distinguish between you and everyone else on the market. It also turns your service into a commodity. If your offering is exactly the same as the other guy’s, the clients will make the decision based on price, driving your earnings down.
Just imagine yourself preparing for a day at the beach. You know that the city beach is overcrowded with all your neighbors. You also know that driving 20 minutes out of the city will get you to a nice spot with less people and more space in the water.
Sticking with the familiar, with what everyone else is doing seems easy in the short run. Thinking of ways to differentiate yourself means time, work, and a possible detour from your comfort zone. But you aren’t building this business to serve you for a week, a month, or even a year. You want to see profit from it for a long time to come. So how much of your time and energy investment is it worth to you?
Niche marketing will make your business both more profitable and less complicated. Figure out what sets you apart from competition and you’ll become the go-to person for a small, but steady set of clients. Develop a loyal following and you will not have to compete on price. Focus on solving a set problem, and you won’t have to juggle so many tasks.
It is not that hard to find out what sets you apart. All you need to do is ask!
- Ask yourself where your professional philosophy goes against the standard shop talk. Ask yourself what you are doing already that is different from others.
- Ask your clients what they like about working with you. Ask them what separates you from other similar services they had used.
- Ask your colleagues how they differentiate themselves. Ask them if they see anything in you that stands out.
- Ask potential clients if there is a service they need, but can’t find. Ask them about the obstacles to using your service.
- Ask a knowledgeable expert how to put all of this information together. Ask if there is a perceived as well as a technical differential you can leverage.
Don’t be afraid to ask people for their opinions. Everyone craves a listening ear. Asking others shows them you care about your business and value their ideas. Give it a couple of tries and you will see that there isn’t much to fear.
Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short by being just like everyone else. You are unique and so is your gift to your clients.
What have been your experiences with niche marketing? Have you given any thought to your niche? What are your favorite examples of companies with unique niches?